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Author Topic: New Yorker Rejects Itself
redux
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This was interesting:


http://www.thereviewreview.net/publishing-tips/new-yorker-rejects-itself-quasi-scientific-a

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pdblake
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Could be that they all recognised it?
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redux
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I thought that too, but also thought that if that were the case they would have written back that they rejected on the grounds of plagiarism are will blacklist that author.

[Edited to add: I am speculating at best.]

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Robert Nowall
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Some years back, there was a group that submitted supposed classics to publishers. The one I remember best was a Jerzy Kozinski novel that got bounced, unrecognized, by everybody---though somebody set back a nice note with one MS saying the style reminded them of Kozinski. (The original publisher bounced it without additional comment.)

Another time they passed around the script for Casablanca to agents and studios---recognition was a little higher here, but there were also a few nibbles from those who didn't, including one who wanted to turn it into a novel.

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Foste
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
Some years back, there was a group that submitted supposed classics to publishers. The one I remember best was a Jerzy Kozinski novel that got bounced, unrecognized, by everybody---though somebody set back a nice note with one MS saying the style reminded them of Kozinski. (The original publisher bounced it without additional comment.)

Another time they passed around the script for Casablanca to agents and studios---recognition was a little higher here, but there were also a few nibbles from those who didn't, including one who wanted to turn it into a novel.

Yeah, that's right.

Here's a link for more info for those who are interested:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/03/19/new_yorker_slush_pile_submitting_plagiarized_fiction_is_a_waste_of_everyone.html

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MAP
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This experiment is lame and proves nothing. It's just a waste of time.

Using the analogy from the post, there never is one girl that every boy wants to dance with at the dance. And even if there was, the boy she chose would not be wanted by all the other girls.

That idea is so flawed.

Everyone has their own personal preferences when it comes to physical attractiveness just like editors have their own personal preferences for stories.

I bet most of the editors he sent it to publish different types of stories than the New Yorker, and a New Yorker story wouldn't appeal to their readers, so of course they'd reject it. And I bet the editors who did like that type of stories probably thought it seemed too familiar and didn't want to put the time into hunting down the original to make sure before they accused the writer of plagerism. Editors are busy.

I don't understand why these people waste their time with this sort of thing. Just work on submitting your own stories.

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rcmann
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It probably has as much to do with the literary sophistication of the slush reader as anything else. And what kind of mood the slush reader was in that day. And what they had for lunch and if it agreed with their digestion.

Does anyone actually read the New Yorker anymore? Outside of New York I mean? Granted, I live in a blue collar town in flyover country, but I haven't seen one on the rack in quite a while.

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extrinsic
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Exercises like these prove not one scintilla of anything. What's missing from these allegedly scientific experiments are factors beyond the ordinary ken of ambitious writers. For one, timely relevance. Is this story's topic currently socially relevant? The New Yorker's content is no less often ephemeral than any other venue. The stories with staying power are memorable and timely relevant and timeless. Their language may not be though.

For two, name recognition. Publishers of every genre have white lists as well as black lists. Who's hot and who's not because the audience wants more of the former and none of the latter. Though the New Yorker accepts unsolicited manuscripts, their editors in every department rarely accept any from no-name writers, maybe once in ten years. They don't accept submissions from name writers either. They invite them to contribute.

For three, the New Yorker publishes only one fiction feature per issue, forty-nine issues per year, and receives twenty thousand submissions per work week vying for one slot at a time. Their screening reader panel may look at who a submission that came over the threshold is from. If the name rings a bell or intrigues them, they may open the submission, electronic submission manager system anymore, and see if the title and first ten words are catchy. They may read a paragraph or two if they are catchy. They may kick the title around in the office. They may read the remainder. If it tickles their fancy, they may propose the manuscript for the next tier.

The next tier is a brick wall and acceptances are booked months and months in advance. A screening reader willing to advocate for an over-the-threshold submission risks termination. They are interns with some screenings skills but they don't really understand the audience enough to support an acceptance decision. Tel est la vie de escritur.

These are the major leagues. No one walks on off the street, not without starting on the groundskeeper leagues first.

Submitting a previously published work is at least disingenuos. Worse, doing so causes harms inflicted upon the original work, the author, and the culture. Worst, under the guise of "research," all doing so amounts to in the end is an impish and offensive prank with potentially criminal consequences. Intentional plagiarism, knowingly representing someone else's intellectual property as one's own, no matter how innocent the intention, is an egregious offense.

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Foste
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quote:
Originally posted by MAP:
This experiment is lame and proves nothing. It's just a waste of time.


quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
Exercises like these prove not one scintilla of anything.

Oh, geez Louise, loosen up, people.

It's not like she said that this little shenanigan proved anything. She just pointed out that it's interesting. If anything, laugh at the absurdity of it, or if you prefer laugh at the guy who went such to ridiculous lengths to prove practically nothing.

Neither do I see anyone endorsing this kind of behavior or putting on their professor's hat they made out of rolled up newspapers and proclaiming that only name recognition gets you anywhere, that editors are throwing our stories on a pile of burning money or that this stupid little stunt proves anything.

Maybe the guy who wrote that blog post believes that. But I've known people who believe that their garden gnomes throw sweet rave parties at night. When nobody is looking. Because garden gnomes are crafty bastards. And I AM ON TO THEM.

Errr, as I said, that doesn't make it true.

Nobody ever claimed that this proved anything - it's a travesty, a waste of time, but an amusing read in a certain meta kind of way.

And in the end, if there are going to be any repercussions from this it'll be that guy's problem - he is after all accountable for his actions (and it's not like this didn't happen before, as Robert pointed out).

Now I am off to hang out with my posse of garden gnomes. Because I am lonely and weird.

Peace.

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MAP
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quote:
..it's a travesty, a waste of time, but an amusing read in a certain meta kind of way.
Well, I think it is lame. Feel free to disagree, and watch out for that gnome by the petunias. I swear he wasn't there yesterday. [Smile]
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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by Foste:
Oh, geez Louise, loosen up, people.

This is a buck up scenario not a loosen up scenario.

No one has a right to tell me what to think, to feel, to believe, to say about a wrongful act of this nature. Not you certainly, Foste.

I don't take lightly to lying, cheating, and stealing, not when intellectual property ownership, my bread and butter potentially, is at heart, No matter if the circumstances are true or not, the article advocates an unconcsionable act.

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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by rcmann:
Does anyone actually read the New Yorker anymore? Outside of New York I mean? Granted, I live in a blue collar town in flyover country, but I haven't seen one on the rack in quite a while.

The New Yorker enjoys a million copy per issue print circulation and double that in online version visits.
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Foste
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quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Foste:


No one has a right to tell me what to think, to feel, to believe, to say about a wrongful act of this nature. Not you certainly, Foste.


And you don't have the right to put words in my mouth. You only get to put food in my mouth. And only if you rub my belly lovingly
while you do. And while we're at it you can tuck me in. Solely for completions' sake.

I never told anyone how to feel. I suggested it. I know you are fond of precise vernacular so I'll let you stew on that a bit.

Oh, and before you complain of "locker room rough handling" (a wonderful phrase indeed, I remember it from you developmental editing thread), don't pick fights. And don't imply things I never said. Because that, my friend, is a crap thing to do.

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MattLeo
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Well, from what I can see most of the harm was self-inflicted. The perpetrator of this prank shows that he has no idea what he's talking about -- at least he doesn't know how things work at the New Yorker, which doesn't accept fiction submissions direct from authors.

In all likelihood the harm done to anyone else was zero; possibly some slushpile reader's time was wasted.

I see no reason for people here to give or take offense. The New Yorker is about as likely a venue for our work as the Pyongyang Times -- probably the Pyongyang Times would almost certainly be a better shot for us, just work in the Great Successor I guess.

Like most practical jokes, it's bound to offend some people's sense of propriety. While I am not fastidious in such matters it seems to me that having a somewhat sensitive sense of propriety is less of a shame than not having one at all.

All in all it's a silly, pointless prank, not one we should trouble ourselves over.

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extrinsic
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Foste, are you claiming you didn't tell Hatrack people to loosen up, among them me? whom you explicitly cited and insultingly paraphrased. No one gets to tell me to loosen up like it's a cool-breeze thing to say, least of all, hereabouts, you.
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extrinsic
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MattLeo, the harms run broader and deeper than that. I've known disenchanted writers to think it's okay to pull these kinds of pranks in workshops. Eviction from a group, if not expulsion from college. The article was written in a tongue-in-cheek voice, suggesting it's a hoax or work of fiction, but it crosses the line into potential harms of consequence to impressionable and gullible writers due to posing as a true and harmless exercise. A strong hint or clue, or revelation ending, beyond the friend-of-a-friend-like anonymity of texts and publishers, and narrow focus on the New Yorker, that it's a work of fiction, and a more critically-thought and humorous composition would have served as well or served more effectively as a platform outlet for writers', and the writer's, rejection frustrations.
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Foste
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quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
Foste, are you saying you didn't tell Hatrack people to loosen up, among them me? whom you explicitly cited and insultingly paraphrased. No one gets to tell me to loosen up like it's a cool-breeze thing to say, least of all, hereabouts, you.

Read my post. Calmly.

I never forced anyone to take a specific course of action nor did I order anyone around.

It's a suggestion. An opinion piece. You know. Because this is a forum. Where people do these kind of things.

And last time I checked you weren't the HT Special Kickass Police Force. Last time I checked KDW was in charge of sanctioning people.

And that's the beauty of this new-fangled internet thingy. I get to express MY OPINION. YOU don't get to censor or parent me.

"Gee, let's loosen up." is not on par with "Everybody shut up." The key difference being that I never did the latter.

If you actually took but a moment and didn't charge for the keyboard in mouth-frothing rage because for some nebulous reason you felt offended or contrived some hidden meaning in my post which wasn't there, there would be no problem.

But I think it's not about me being the maligned internet dictator you're trying to make of me. It's because I quoted you and you felt offended and now you're trying to obscure that fact by being in a tizzy how I am telling people how to feel (that's what I think at least). Once again: I expressed my opinion - nothing more
nothing less. Take it or leave it. For the love of God, I was talking
about GARDEN GNOMES.

Fear leads to anger, dark side, midichlorians and all that jazz.
Don't go down that path, man. Please. I love you, man.

P.S.:

Do I get to choose how I feel? Or do you veto that too?

P.P.S.:

Even if you veto it, I still love you and I will forever treasure the great moments we shared here on the intertubes.

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extrinsic
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Foste, maybe I feel slighted by the commanding register of your commentary now directed solely at me. "Read my post, calmly." "Take it or leave it." "Don't go down that path, man." Etc. And on top of that is uncalled-for insulting dismissals and flawed accusations.
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Foste
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quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
Foste, maybe I feel slighted by the commanding register of your commentary now directed solely at me. "Read my post, calmly." "Take it or leave it." "Don't go down that path, man." Etc. And on top of that is uncalled-for insulting dismissals and flawed accusations.

And I felt that your interpretation of my post was dismissive and insulting. Please know that this can go both ways. Plus it was commanding as well.

Now, I am ready to shake hands and let bygones be bygones and forget that we both lost our cool there.

Fair?

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MattLeo
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I have no part in this exchange, but looking back on what was written here I see some words that might have the capacity to offend, but none written with any actual intent to offend.

For the record I don't think I can recall either of you ever deliberately trying to hurt or offend anyone here. As for inadvertent offense it's almost impossible to avoid giving occasionally in a forum like this, and I feel the wisest course when you find yourself on the receiving end of such offense is to step away from the exchange for a few days. If the sting is still there after couple days, then I'd advise taking it up discreetly and offline, not in a public forum in which questions of phrasing can become matters of face.

[ March 25, 2013, 10:19 PM: Message edited by: MattLeo ]

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rcmann
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In a blatant attempt to change the subject-

quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
quote:
Originally posted by rcmann:
Does anyone actually read the New Yorker anymore? Outside of New York I mean? Granted, I live in a blue collar town in flyover country, but I haven't seen one on the rack in quite a while.

The New Yorker enjoys a million copy per issue print circulation and double that in online version visits.
According to my casual research, NYC alone has more than 8 million people in it. I didn't even bother to look up the stats for NY state. I'm still curious about what the readership of the New Yorker might be outside of NY. Or at least, away from the east coast.

Just a casual point of curiosity, if anyone knows.

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MattLeo
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Can't answer for outside the east coast, but here in Boston it's extremely common to find the New Yorker in people's homes. Usually in the bathroom --- it's not a pretentious thing. If the house has a large collection of books and there's a healthy selection of "literary" works in that collection, the chances are about even you'll find the New Yorker there.

Of my five surviving siblings, I think at least three have subscriptions to the New Yorker, which means exactly half my family in my generation subscribe. We are not jet-setters or particularly avante garde; we're all just avid readers.

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Robert Nowall
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The point of the experiment---from the writer's point of view---is that it proves the editors do not know what is actually good, much less what's already been published, much less what they've already published. Which validates our own self-worth as writers against their constant rejection.
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Robert Nowall
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Here's a quote from the Wikipedia page on Jerzy Kosinski novel in question, Steps, which mentions the incident briefly. I tried to post a link, but there are parentheses in it, and this site won't let me post with parentheses. It's short, at least. (I note in passing that I spelled "Kosinski" wrong in my original post.)

Anyway...

quote:
In 1975, a freelance writer Chuck Ross, in order to prove his theory that unknown authors always find their books rejected, sent out excerpts from Steps to four different publishers, using the pseudonym Erik Demos. All four did not accept the sample. In 1977, Ross sent out the entire book to ten publishers, including Random House, which had originally published the book, and thirteen literary agents. Again, the book was rejected, also by Random House, having not been recognized, despite being an award-winning work.

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Robert Nowall
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I was surprised to find The New Yorker had so high a circulation---1,047,337, according to another Wikipedia article. Have only read a few issues; never subscribed or bought it regularly. Never much cared for the short stories encountered there, even the SF stories (which I saw elsewhere, long after the fact---Le Guin comes to mind.)

I remember submitting a few stories to The New Yorker way, way back---I don't remember which ones, or why I thought they had a shot. Just another pssible market on the "fiction" lists in The Writer, I think.

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MattLeo
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The Kosinski prank doesn't prove anything, other than possibly confirming the unsurprising fact that publishers treat manuscripts from authors with proven ability to sell to the public differently than manuscripts from totally unknown authors.

Why would anyone expect anything different?

The first novel I wrote, *The Wonderful Instrument*, came in at 170,000 words. I never bothered to submit it to publishers or agents because a 170,000 is far too long for a genre novel by an unknown author to have much of a chance at traditional publication. A giant novel by an author who hasn't proved his work sells to the public is too risky; it costs too much to produce and takes up too much room on the bookshelf. There are rare exceptions, of course (JONATHAN STRANGE...) but the sweet spot for a debut genre novel is probably around 85,000 words.

Now 170,000 is just below the average length (185,000) of Stephen King's *DARK TOWER* series. If I were a particularly silly and narcissistic person I might rail about the unfairness of the publishing industry publishing Stephen King books with up to 288K words (THE DARK TOWER) and rejecting mine because it had 170K words. But fortunately for my peace of mind, I'm not *that* silly and narcissistic.

King's first published novel, CARRIE, comes in at around 60,000 words, by the way. His *second* book, SALEM'S LOT, was 155,000 words. He might not have been able to sell SALEM'S LOT until he'd had a hit with CARRIE.

The idea that publishers *never* publish new authors is self-evidently false. That publishers treat works by unpublished authors less favorably than works by proven authors is just common sense.

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extrinsic
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Stephen King is an excellent example of an emerging writer who came up through the leagues. He began with circulating his stories to high school chums, college education and some modest publishing, then yeomanship publishing in fan magazines, then publishing in minor digests, slight recognition in middling digests, eventual breakout with a popular novel, some intermediate doldrums, then huge successes.

King took a different tack on trying and testing the publishing marketplace culture than that of an outsider assaulting the walls, looking in, frustrated. He wrote and pseudonomyously submitted the Richard Bachman novels after Carrie during a time of self-doubt. They languished in mediocrity until they were attached to his name. As examples of King's struggling work, the Bachman novels show an intermediate phase of his growth as a writer after a first phenomenal success.

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MAP
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quote:
The point of the experiment---from the writer's point of view---is that it proves the editors do not know what is actually good, much less what's already been published, much less what they've already published. Which validates our own self-worth as writers against their constant rejection.
But it doesn't prove that. Publishers have proven to know what a good story is because they have published a lot of amazing stories. And you may not like all of them, but I'm sure you like a lot of them.

And you don't know why the story was rejected. Maybe the fact that it was published and therefore familiar was the very reason it was rejected. We don't know.

We have a great statistical study of what gets published and what doesn't from what has actually been published and successes of the self-publishing world.

Do good or even great stories get rejected by publishers?

Yes, absolutely. The Wizard of Oz for one, Eragon, That Trylle trilogy by Amanda Hockings, and we are probably only going to see more and more examples as more writers self-publish.

Agents and publishers let some gems slip by. We already know that.

So what is the point of the experiment? I don't know. It reeks of bitterness to me.

And just to be clear. I think the experiment was stupid and a waste of time, not whoever linked it here. I agree it is interesting. It is interesting how much time some people will waste trying to make themselves feel a little bit better. Time that would be better served writing and submitting their own stories. To each their own.

And before Foste tells me to chill out again. I am pretty chilled already. Just sharing my opinion. [Smile]

[ March 26, 2013, 01:05 PM: Message edited by: MAP ]

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Foste
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quote:
Originally posted by MAP:
[QUOTE]

So what is the point of the experiment? I don't know. It reeks of bitterness to me.


Yes, I see where you're coming from - the writer was working off a foregone conclusion here which renders the whole thing pointless. He basically tried to confirm what he thought was the truth.

Oh, and MAP I hope I ruffled no feathers. I was just trying to add my 2 cents and a little humor to the whole opinion stew.

If by any case you felt offended or attacked, please know that I am sorry and that this wasn't my intention at all.

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Robert Nowall
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It's been said somewhere in this discussion that, as far as the editors are concerned, the whole experiment is a waste of time. I can refine that further: the editors see it as a waste of their time.

But what is it, when an aspiring writer writes something, sends the MS in, and gets it back in a few days or weeks or months with nothing more than a form rejection slip in the envelope with the MS? Whose time is being wasted here?

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MAP
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quote:
Originally posted by Foste:
quote:
Originally posted by MAP:
[QUOTE]

So what is the point of the experiment? I don't know. It reeks of bitterness to me.


Yes, I see where you're coming from - the writer was working off a foregone conclusion here which renders the whole thing pointless. He basically tried to confirm what he thought was the truth.

Oh, and MAP I hope I ruffled no feathers. I was just trying to add my 2 cents and a little humor to the whole opinion stew.

If by any case you felt offended or attacked, please know that I am sorry and that this wasn't my intention at all.

No ruffled feathers. You're pretty funny. [Smile]
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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
It's been said somewhere in this discussion that, as far as the editors are concerned, the whole experiment is a waste of time. I can refine that further: the editors see it as a waste of their time.

But what is it, when an aspiring writer writes something, sends the MS in, and gets it back in a few days or weeks or months with nothing more than a form rejection slip in the envelope with the MS? Whose time is being wasted here?

A struggling writer's wasted time if solely preceived from the writer's perspective. I've had to send out rejections. They aren't a pleasant task. Worse when they elicit rude responses. Worst when they harm all involved. Unfortunately, a best practice is just saying no thank you. A waste of time to do much more than that when the submission pile exponetionally grows every second and not one submission will be read through or accepted regardless of merit. One screener's job is primarily to sort through and winnow out the marketable, white-listed names. A senior editor's job includes diplomatically turning most of them down.

What about the rest of the culture's perceptions? Screeners who demean and ridicule unsolicited submissions and wonder why they have to do a thankless task and wonder why writers don't "get it." Yet screeners themselves don't "get it," that screening is a reading apprenticeship predicated upon training them to spot and advocate for noteworthy manuscripts.

Editors whose hearts break that they are unable to publish every reasonably well-organized and thought-out manuscript coming in over the transom. The transom, by the way, is the traditional office window above a publisher's main office door that could be opened to allow air circulation in the days before air conditioned luxury office suites. Writers used to seek out publishers offices and hand deliver their manuscripts to get an edge up on the competition. Writers would toss their precious progeny over the transom into the dark unknown and hope for the best outcomes.

Publishers who wonder why they bother, though never read their own products, let alone sample sample products vying for a production slot.

Distributors who couldn't care less what is in the boxes and bundles they haul around like so much dead weight.

Booksellers who are disenchanted readers lost to the vagaries of low paying jobs and demanding, unpleasant consumers.

Bean-counter owners and stockholders who have their eyes fixated on the moment-by-moment bottom line black ink.

Consumers who bemoan a flood of mediocre products barely held back from swamping their mail boxes, bookshelves, and magazine racks by a standout product every once in a blue moon leap year summer beach vacation weekend.

Is it all a waste? It's a culture that waits with bated breath upon the next great reading thrill. It's a culture that thrives on being identified with and promoting buzz, Buzz, BUZZ. As busy as a bee hive, and about as understandable a culture to we neutered worker drones who do the heavy lifting as we are to the out-of-touch aristocrats of the culture.

[ March 26, 2013, 06:47 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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It would be better all around if people would be more careful about how they try to encourage discussion to not get heated. Sometimes, as we have seen, such attempts can generate more heat instead of more calm.

Please remember that all we get here are words. No facial expressions, no tone of voice. And if we infer something in the words we read that may not actually be there, then more than misunderstandings can develop.

Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and if you don't think there is any doubt, please walk away. Don't encourage more of what you think may be an insult by acknowledging it.

Thank you.

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